CHANNEL ISLANDS AIR NATIONAL GUARD STATION, Port Hueneme, Calif. --
On March 5, 2023, the 146th Airlift Wing held an assumption of command ceremony to celebrate the wing's newly selected incoming commander, Col. Christopher F. Dougherty, inside the wing's fuel cell hangar—presiding guest Brig. Gen. Steven Butow, commander of the California Air National Guard, accompanied Dougherty as he participated in the ceremonious events.
Soon after concluding the time-honored military tradition known as the assumption of command, and with the wing's flagship C-130J Super Hercules aircraft placed behind him as a prominent backdrop for the ceremony, Dougherty began to share his gratitude to the Airmen assigned to the 146th Airlift Wing (146 AW).
Dougherty's first statement was direct and candid during the delivery of his first speech as the wing's new commander.
"I am in awe. In the thirteen years serving here, the accomplishments I have seen from the Airmen of this wing are nothing short of incredible. If you don't already know, you will soon realize you are a part of the greatest airlift wing in the United States Air Force. But there is one common theme across these missions. One constant within all these efforts. That constant is you, the Airmen of this wing," said Dougherty.
Dougherty continued emphasizing his amazement for all the work the 146 AW Airmen had accomplished in their last three years supporting the plethora of domestic and federal operations during the pandemic; focusing his appreciation and pride in their sacrifice that the Airmen from the 146 AW, affectionately known as the Hollywood Guard, have and continue to perform far beyond the call of duty.
"You are the backbone of this organization. Your volunteer efforts have saved lives, protected property, provided essential medical services, rebuilt neighborhoods, gave food, comfort, protection, and safe passage. But, beyond all official demonstrations of excellence, you've also done something intangible. You have given hope to those who have none. You have provided a role model for those who needed one. And while you may not realize it yet, you have inspired a generation to serve. I am deeply proud to be a part of this special organization with you," said Dougherty.
Whenever an incoming commander assumes command, it is customary that they deliver a set of priorities for their Airmen to follow. Airmen are then expected to weave those priorities into their everyday operations that affect their daily decision-making.
In the second part of his address, Dougherty presented his new vision for the wing and its Airmen in attendance. Acknowledging that while he is in the ultimate position to ensure all the accolades, they have made do not go unnoticed, he underlined the importance of going beyond regaling their accomplishments and announced his objectives to safeguard his vision of providing the best care to his Airmen are met as he segued into his priorities.
"You must know that the investments we make in you are worth it. So, this is a specific message to all supervisors and commanders, if you don't invest in your people, now, today, if you don't ensure the members of your organization are your top priority, you will have no one left to lead the mission. So, my number one priority for this wing is People First," said Dougherty.
Transitioning to his next priority, Dougherty began to speak about the importance of remaining ready for whatever the future holds.
"The mission isn't going away, the airlift and support function demands for this wing are constant, and it's up to us to succeed when that call comes. We live in a rapidly changing world and must be ready to meet emerging threats while continuing to find creative ways to improve varied skill sets and solve problems that have yet to arise," said Dougherty.
"Right now, there is a storm brewing across the pacific—and although I hope we never have to face it, we still need to be continually vigilant, always ready to respond. This potential storm requires us to be agile, innovative, and adaptable. In many ways, the Air National Guard is perfect for this. We here at Channel Islands are made for this, and that's why my second priority is Mission Always," said Dougherty.
Dougherty took a moment to look across the hangar as he plainly addressed the Airmen in the crowd.
"My message to you is simple. Whether you fix, fly, or support the mission, all I ask is this. Know your job, do it well, and take pride in your efforts. If you do those three things, and we prioritize our Airmen, the mission will take care of itself," said Dougherty.
In his final address concerning the last of his priorities, Dougherty took the time to elaborate on the prestige of serving at the 146th Airlift Wing.
"Being an Airman in the Hollywood Guard is more than just wearing a uniform and earning a day's pay. It is a part of a service-oriented culture with a rich history that we celebrate and embrace. Being an Airman at the 146th means being part of and taking pride in an organization you can depend on to be with you throughout your life. That's why my third priority is cultivating the Airman Forever concept," said Dougherty.
"We must be able to communicate effectively, collaborate closely, and respect each other's unique skill sets if we are to succeed as a guard family. We must be willing to learn from our mistakes and share our successes. These lessons continually drive us to improve ourselves within our community. Providing positive role models to those around us, we pass these values to our families at home, often resulting in our brothers, sisters, and children serving alongside us," said Dougherty.
"Whether you like it or not, if you serve in the Hollywood Guard, in my eyes, you are an Airman Forever," said Dougherty.
In his closing remarks, Dougherty took a moment to thank all the families of each of the wing's Airmen, acknowledging their support in being critical to all of the wing's success. Then, as Dougherty looked across the crowd, he used his last moments to look across the hangar and confirm his commitment to serving the Airmen of the 146th Airlift Wing.
"I want to ensure that you all understand that as your new wing commander, I am here to serve you all. My top priority is to ensure you are properly equipped, organized, and trained to be ready, capable, and prepared to defend our state and nation. I am humbled to have this opportunity to show the world what the Airmen of the 146th Airlift Wing can do, and I will not squander that," said Dougherty.
"I look forward to working with all of you to achieve mission success, and I am confident that together we will uphold the proud traditions of the Air Force and the Air National Guard," said Dougherty.
After one final pause, Dougherty raised his arm and proudly exclaimed —"Hollywood Guard Forever!"